07 Apr It’s comeback time for blue suede shoes
April 05–Ask them anything, but don’t step on their blue suede shoes.
It’s been a long time since anyone could say that, and mean it, about Main Street’s Blue Suede Brigade.
But the famous shoes are now back on the feet of Downtown Memphis’ goodwill ambassadors, simultaneously putting style in their step and killing a surefire conversation starter.
“We are the Blue Suede Brigade, so people are always asking ‘Where are your blue suede shoes?'” said brigadier Charles Jackson.
“I get that question all the time,” added Gaston Davis, the original brigadier, who manages the dozen-member unit. “It’s the first thing they ask.”
The brigade had the namesake shoes, donated by Nike, when it was formed in 1997 to greet visitors, provide information and keep an eye on things Downtown. But the shoes were dropped about a decade ago because of problems finding a ready supply of replacements, Davis said.
A blue suede sash proved a poor substitute, especially in view of the brigade’s slogan: “Ask us anything … but don’t step on our shoes.”
Visitors, particularly tourists, love tie-ins to Memphis music, and “Blue Suede Shoes” is legendary as a hit for songwriter Carl Perkins, Sun Studio and Elvis Presley.
The Downtown agency had been looking for some time to bring the shoes back, but the quest ramped up after a uniform redesign eliminated the sashes, president Paul Morris said.
Morris spotted blue sneakers on the feet of an opposing team at a Memphis Grizzlies game, and he sent Davis on a search for new footwear.
Davis hit pay dirt at online retailer Zappos.com and split the order between Nike and adidas to accommodate the needs of a dozen Brigadiers.
Morris has his own pair of the adidas and swears they’re comfortable.
“That’s very important, because the brigadiers spend a lot of time on their feet walking. We tested them before we adopted them,” Morris said. “We’re happy to say the blue suede shoes are back.”